Derelict Joburg buildings to be used for low-cost accommodation

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg's skyline is going to be characterised by cranes as the City turns into a construction site over the next decade.

This as Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Tuesday launched an inner-city revitalisation project, "Building New Jozi", which will see city-owned properties converted into affordable, low-cost housing for residents, while others are converted into commercial spaces for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors.  

Mashaba said the City will start a process of rejuvenating the inner city by redeveloping bad buildings, starting with turning 71 properties into low-cost housing and commercial properties in which rent will cost between R800 and R1,000 a month.

During the launch at the Council Chambers, Mashaba said the City will release 50 to 100 buildings annually for development for mixed-use, low-income commercial and residential properties in the inner city.

"We have a special unit dealing with hijacked buildings. So far they have returned 73 hijacked buildings to their rightful owners. With 500 derelict buildings identified, we hope to release about 50 to 100 buildings yearly. This is just the beginning," Mashaba said.

"Plans are underway to expropriate derelict buildings in the inner city and give them to the private sector to be consolidated into affordable rental spaces for housing or business spaces."

Some properties in Hillbrow that are currently occupied illegally will be redeveloped for mixed-use while buildings in Braamfontein are earmarked for low-cost student accommodation. Vacant land south of Joburg CBD, which is currently an informal taxi rank, will be developed for sectional development. 

Vacant space in Vrededorp is also earmarked for the development of low-cost student accommodation and mixed-use property. Mashaba said the City was looking to cut red tape and make it easier for investors to enter the Joburg CBD, and bring work closer to people's homes.

"I see an inner city where small businesses aren’t priced out by the Rosebanks of this city, a place where the streets and pavements are clean, I see it for what it will be. Working together we can create a city of gold and opportunities, the city does not have the balance sheet to achieve all of this alone," Mashaba said.

Inner city financiers like Absa, Nedbank, Standard Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and TUHF, said they believed in the vision and the value in the investments they have made thus far.

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